Killer Winnipeg cop Justin Holz, 36, pleaded guilty on October 30, 2019, to dangerous driving causing death for the collision that killed 23-year-old Cody Severight in 2017. Holz hit Severight and left the young Indigenous man to die in the road. A Manitoba provincial court judge agreed to a joint recommendation by lawyers and sentenced Holz to 30 months in prison. A rare case of a killer cop being charged, and an even more rare outcome that would see a killer cop do time in prison.
The court heard that Holz met other police officers for drinks at a bar starting before 5 PM on the evening of October 10, 2017. He drove off from a nearby car park around three hours later. Investigators calculated Holz was driving at up to 92 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. He hit Severight, who was crossing the street with another person, while going at least 76 km/h. According to the Court, Severight was launched across the road, his skull fractured and his neck broken in the collision.
Despite clearly striking someone, Holz did not stop or attempt to help the victim. Instead he continued to drive on, even increasing his speed up to 129 km/h. Almost 12 minutes after striking Severight, Holz parked and called police, saying he had hit someone. A breathalyzer test was done on Holz more than an hour after he struck Severight. The conduct of two other officers in delaying the breathalyzer was questioned but no disciplinary actions taken against them.
Severight was later taken to hospital but died of his injuries.
Holz had originally faced other offences, including impaired driving. Those charges were following the guilty plea.
The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), the unit that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, is investigating the death of a man during an arrest in Langley, British Columbia in the early morning of October 23, 2019).
According to the IIO, RCMP report that on October 23, 2019, sometime after 3:00 AM, officers attended the location of an abandoned 911 call. Officers allegedly located a man at the intersection of 72 Avenue and 208 Street in Langley. RCMP claim that while making an arrest an altercation occurred. At around 4:30 AM, RCMP notified the IIO that the man had died. No other details have been released publicly, including details of the “altercation” or why the man had been targeted for arrest in the first place.
A 19-year-old man died on the morning of October 12, 2019, while in-custody at the RCMP Detachment in Onion Lake. Saskatchewan. RCMP have only reported that the youth’s death was “sudden.” In their media, the RCMP say the man, from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, was found unresponsive in the cell area shortly after 8 AM. Paramedics were apparently called, and the man was pronounced dead on the scene.
There is no outside unit in Saskatchewan to investigate police-involved deaths in the province so police in Saskatchewan investigate police. In this case Moose Jaw Police are investigating the circumstances of the death. The Ministry of Justice is expected to appoint an observer during the investigation. In any event, this is an unacceptable process of one force “investigating” another force, a process that lacks credibility.
A 54-year-old man has died in police custody in The Pas, Manitoba, a town about 600 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg. According to the Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, police arrested the man after responding to a call about an intoxicated person on October 5, 2019. He was put in a cell at the RCMP detachment at around 7 PM. The man was found unresponsive in his cell the next morning. According to the IIU, emergency medical services attended and pronounced the man dead in the detachment. Police and jail cells are not appropriate responses for someone dealing with substance use issues.
A 34-year-old man died after being tased by Peel police on September 10, 2019 in Malton, Ontario. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the agency that examines cases of police harm to civilians in the province, reports that police officers responded to “a domestic call” at a home on Morning Star Drive near Cambrett Drive some time after 9 PM. The SIU claims that officers had “an interaction” with a man that “involved the use of a conducted energy weapon.” The man then “went vital signs absent” and was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. No details have been provided publicly about the specifics of the call or the nature of the “interaction” police had that killed the man
The SIU report that five investigators and one forensic investigator have been assigned to the killing. Two subject officers and one witness officer are the focus of the investigation.
A 27-year-old man has died after being arrested by Winnipeg police. The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU), the agency that examines cases of police harms to civilians in Manitoba, reports that on September 23 police officers responded to a call about a man in some distress who is said to have appeared confused and was yelling in an area near Assiniboine Avenue and Kennedy Street at around 12:42 AM. The IIU reports that police used force to arrest him. During the arrest the man became unresponsive and was taken to hospital in critical condition. The victim died in hospital on September 30.
This death again raises the question of why police, who respond, and quickly, with force are being sent to deal with health care crises. Police are not, and should not be, health care workers. This is at least the seventh through police action in Winnipeg in 2019.